Weekly Dig Cover Story


Two of our Finest Rock Purveyors Top the Bill


Each June, thousands of people congregate downtown to march, revel and embrace the LGBT community at Boston Pride. With some of the highest attendance numbers on the East Coast, Boston’s celebrations draw a rowdy parade, unrivaled nightlife and a massive concert showcasing celebrities and local talent alike. This Saturday, the crowds will pack the concrete expanse of City Hall Plaza just like they would a sold-out show at the Middle East. With MEandJOANCOLLINS and Mrs. Danvers on the roster for Pride this year, two of Boston’s favorite indie bands will take the stage and take pride in the fact that they’re active, proud members of both Boston’s LGBT and independent music scenes.

“I didn’t think we were gay enough to play Pride!” exclaims Jen Grygiel, referring to the fact that she’s the only member of MEandJOANCOLLINS who identifies as queer. Grygiel, a lesbian who’s spent as much time playing guitar in various bands in Boston as she has singing for marriage equality on the steps of the State House, makes a point of staying true to herself and her music by incorporating aspects of her identity into the lyrics of newer songs. “Before, I felt like I was clearly singing about my boyfriend or something, but I wrote it off as a performance. Now, I purposefully make a point of using pronouns and saying ‘she,’ ‘her,’ ‘girl,’ etc. MEandJOANCOLLINS’ new material is more settled with me because I can dive into it completely.”

Bo Barringer is the co-founder of MEandJOANCOLLINS and Grygiel’s musical counterpart, and the significance of MEandJOANCOLLINS playing Pride isn’t lost on him. “Jen is about social change,” he says, “and even though I feel like someone’s sexuality isn’t a big deal, I think that one of the things about us being a less than 50-percent gay band is that we bridge a divide between the straight and queer communities in music and we make it more normal. Maybe walls are being broken down, and we didn’t even realize it.”

Mrs. Danvers, on the other hand, is a band made up entirely of queer women who’ve gone from getting a group together at Berklee to headlining Dyke March, to playing Pride, all over the course of a year and a half. The girls, who are in the process of tracking their first independent full-length album, are practicing nonstop in order to prep for Pride. “To have the stamp of approval from the LGBT community in Boston is so meaningful for us,” says Ann Driscoll, lead vocalist and guitarist for Mrs. Danvers. “I grew up feeling humiliated for an aspect of myself that I obviously had no control over. Now, to be playing in front of thousands of people and celebrating this aspect of my identity that I was ashamed of for many years is quite the validation.”

SATURDAY 6.12.10